This recipe came from an “it’s the end of the week what’s in the fridge?” kind of day. I had sausages that needed using and a packet of gnocchi in the cupboard. Yes, a packet of gnocchi. No, I have never made my own gnocchi. Maybe some day. Gnocchi are small Italian potato dumplings made with flour and egg. I had seen a couple of recipes for baked gnocchi on Spill the Beans and on Real Italian Foodies so I decided to try something along those lines.
I make food with tomato based sauces quite a lot so I wanted to do something a bit different for this. Sausage meat goes well with sage which goes well with butternut squash so I thought all three would work well together. And thankfully they do! A béchamel sauce ties them all together and it’s finished nicely with the cheese. I’d imagine this freezes well but I didn’t test it as I took the leftovers for lunch the next day. You can make this is little individual gratin dishes or in one big casserole dish like I have here.
Excuse the pictures, it’s hard to make this look pretty!
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1 small butternut squash
- 400g sausage meat
- 1 onion, finely sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 6 fresh sage leaves
- A dash of white wine
- 25g butter
- 25g plain flour
- 500mls milk
- 1 bay leaf
- 500g gnocchi
- A handful of spinach
- 20g grated Parmesan plus more for sprinkling on top
- Grated nutmeg
- 125g mozzarella
- Start by roasting the butternut squash. Preheat the oven to 190c/170c fan/gas mark 5. Peel and dice the butternut squash, discarding the seeds. Put the cubed squash on a baking tray in an even layer. Pour over some olive oil and season with salt and pepper . Use your hands to mix it all together.
- Roast for approx. 40 minutes, tossing gently halfway through the cooking time, until the squash has started to caramelise and can easily be pierced with a knife.
- When the squash is roasted leave the oven on and turn up the heat to 200c/180c fan/gas mark 6.
- While it is roasting prepare the sausage meat. Remove the meat from the casing and roll into balls. Mine were about the size of golf balls but I would make them a bit smaller next time.
- Heat an oven proof dish over a medium heat and fry the onions and sausage meat until the onions are soft and the meatballs have browned.
- In another heavy bottomed saucepan make the béchamel sauce. Again I am using Delia’s method that I used in my Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni. Put the milk, flour and butter into the saucepan and bring to a gentle boil, stirring all the time. When it starts to boil, add the bay leaf and reduce to a low heat and simmer for 10 minutes until it has thickened. You will need to whisk to avoid lumps. Stir in the grated parmesan and nutmeg, taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Remove the bay leaf before using. If you want to make this in advance cover the surface of the sauce with clingfilm to stop a skin forming.
- Pour the white wine in to the sausages and onions to deglaze the pan and then allow the wine to reduce by about half.
- Add the sage leaves and crushed garlic and fry for another few minutes.
- Cook the gnocchi according to the packet instructions until not quite done as you will be baking further in the oven.
- When ready, drain the gnocchi and add the spinach on top to allow it to wilt onto the potato. Then add the gnocchi and the squash to the dish with the sausage meatballs.
- Mix the contents of the pan until fairly evenly distributed and cover with the béchamel sauce. Grate a little more parmesan on top and cover with pieces of mozzarella.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese is completely melted and golden.
- Allow to stand for 10 minutes and serve with green salad leaves dressed with a little extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice to cut through the richness of the bake.
For a print friendly version click here – A Cookbook Collection – Sausage Butternut Squash and Gnocchi Bake